‘The Avengers’ Review Launches The Atlantic's New Critic, Christopher Orr

The Atlantic has named senior editor Chris Orr the chief film critic for its website, the first to take the position

Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers” marks a milestone for Christopher Orr — it's the first movie he has reviewed as new chief film critic for TheAtlantic.com.

Orr, a senior editor for the magazine’s website and an alum of The New Republic and the New York Sun, is the site’s first principal film critic.

“I’ve been writing about film whenever I could squeeze it in since I’ve been back [at The Atlantic,” Orr told TheWrap. “There were stretches where I’d write every week for a couple months and then stretches where I wouldn’t write at all. I’m looking forward to writing on a regular basis and not appearing and then disappearing.”

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Orr first wrote about film at The New Republic, where he was once the executive editor. He got a bit restless, and a colleague suggested he review films.

He started with new DVD releases so as to avoid stepping on Stanley Kauffmann’s toes. Then he started to write about the theatrical releases that Kaufman wasn’t going to review.

At TheAtlantic, Orr said he will write a review each week  – at least most weeks — while also continuing his editing duties. At the National Magazines Awards Thursday night, three Atlantic pieces were eligible, but none won.

“Chris brings intelligence, curiosity and humor to everything he does,” Bob Cohn, editor of Atlantic digital, said in a statement. “That, combined with his love of movies and his deep experience as a film reviewer, makes him a great addition to the growing roster of talent on the Entertainment channel of TheAtlantic.com.”

Starting with “The Avengers” allows Orr to begin on a positive note. He raved about Whedon’s new film.

“’The Avengers’ is sharp, witty, intense, and at times even touching—easily among the best big-budget entertainments of the last few years,” Orr wrote.

That review went live a day after that of the New York Times’ A.O. Scott, whose less enthusiastic criticism prompted Samuel L. Jackson to call for his firing.

Orr was unaware of the online brouhaha that ensued when he spoke with TheWrap, but rest assured, he’ll have movie stars griping soon enough.